Phoenix Sevens Open 2019 Season
On October 19, the Phoenix Varsity side travelled to Charlotte to compete in the 2nd. round of the Carolinas Rugby Sevens competition. A bumper 28 sides from NC, SC and GA participated in what was billed as the largest Sevens tournament ever held in the Carolinas...
Phoenix Sevens Open 2019 Season
On October 19, the Phoenix Varsity side travelled to Charlotte to compete in the 2nd. round of the Carolinas Rugby Sevens competition. A bumper 28 sides from NC, SC and GA participated in what was billed as the largest Sevens tournament ever held in the Carolinas.
Due to a conflict with Homecoming, a number of Phoenix starters elected not to travel and, as a result, the club included a number of less experienced (or new) players in the 12 man squad that departed for Charlotte on Friday afternoon. This was going to be a great development and learning experience for the players – as well as some fun travelling as a group together. Competition began early on Saturday with the Phoenix opening game being against perennial rival Charlotte Tigers on the main tournament field. Tigers had won the opening Carolinas Sevens event in Raleigh and, as expected, represented strong, experienced opposition in stark contrast to Phoenix who were making their 2019 Sevens debut.
From their first possession, Tigers showed their experience with a clever kick behind the Phoenix defense that was gathered by the Tigers kicker. Only a tremendous tackle from Ben Stewart prevented a certain score. However, following a scrum on the next series, the same player ran in for a fine score in the corner to open Charlottes account. A Phoenix handling error then gifted Tigers another score before the visiting team’s offence got into a rhythm. Debutants Hayden Johnson and Joe Satterfield made some strong carries and offloads belying their relative lack of rugby experience while Isaiah John had a promising break. Following some sustained pressure in the Tigers 22, Jonson Rydell snapped up a loose ball and, showing blazing speed, crossed for a Phoenix score to make the game close. Mateo Podesta missed the conversion and, despite some promising breaks, that completed the Phoenix scoring with the final result Tigers 24, Phoenix 5.
Next up, after a considerable break were the form team of the moment, Raleigh Redhawks. After some promising passing, Phoenix gifted Redhawks the opening score after a pass interception. A dropped catch from the resultant kick-off resulted in another Redhawks score and Phoenix appeared to lose focus against this very talented and experienced opposition, with the final score a resounding Raleigh win by 48 to 0.
The final tournament game was against local team Hough. Phoenix began with great promise. From a scrum at halfway, scrum half Dane Nelson fed Mateo Podesta who grubber kicked through the Hough defensive line. Speedster Jonson Rydell timed his run perfectly to snap up the ball and score under the posts. Andres Lozada made no mistake with the conversion and Phoenix led 7 to 0. Hough scored on the resultant kick off due to poor Phoenix tackling to reduce the lead to 2 points. An excellent kick through from Mateo Podesta to the half way line was not covered well by the Phoenix kick chase and Hough took full advantage with a solo score from their speedy winger. However, Phoenix were well in the game at half time training only by 12 points to 7. Unfortunately, Phoenix appeared to lose focus in the second half with a large number of missed tackles and wild passing resulting in a Hough win by the score of 31 to 7.
As a learning experience for our boys, this was an excellent outing. All of the boys played beyond expectation in what was an Elite level Sevens tournament. Jonson Rodell was named player of the event with 2 excellent tries and some exceptional tackles. The players fed-back some great comments at the Tuesday night training, and recognized both the things that they did well, as well as the key things they need to focus on. Most importantly, the three things to be aware of at the next tournament: (1) Reaction & Awareness (of what is going on around you), (2) Defence (stay flat & shuffle), and (3) be LOUD (communicate with each other – don’t be quiet)!
Next up is the Halloween Sevens in Knoxville where Phoenix are champions in both HS and JV divisions for the past 3 years. We will have learnt a lot in the last week, and we are sure the players and parents are looking forward to this next outing!